206 Life and Letters of Francis Calton
faith in what you tell me I should look upon you as the real Carlylese hero, the "coming man " of whom Tooke used to talk at the Union, and I should prepare to fall down and kiss your slippers, or perform any amount of ritual observance. As it is, I waver in thinking you either destined to be the greatest man of your age, or as having been the perpetrator of a gigantic hoax. So I give you conditional but unbounded admiration and I express humble but ardent gratitude for the monkey, on the hypothesis I fear a most improbable one, of the dear animal not turning out a monkey of the mind, a simious Harris, a beautiful delusion, etc. If you have taken me in, it beats the famous Campbell hoax, for proud in my confidence of your veracity, I have been ensnaring everyone at dinner, breakfast, evening party, man, woman or child to commit themselves to an opinion on the sources of the Nile, when I have been forthwith down upon them with geographical facts, and have by means of them tyrannised over sundry meek and respectable members of scientific societies. Whenever there is a pause in conversation I never fail to say in a calm manner " I had a letter from Abyssinia the other day, very hot season at Dafour I believe," whereat the Horners, Murchisons, Sam Rogers etc. gape with respectful mien.
I suppose you want to know what is going on here (always on the supposition that you have not been daily to Silk Buckingham's Institute' to read the papers). In public matters, great things, corn laws repealed, ministers expected to go out in a week ; in Cambridge things very little ; Evans got the University Scholarship ; Lushington head of the Tripos, of course; your humble servant 9th, a tremendous shave off the second class; however, fortune favoured me and I got the 2nd medal. Since this I have been three weeks at Paris, and a month reading at History. Tomorrow I start for the Rhine, Geneva, Venice and Milan-family party-alarm about cholera which the papers say is coming westward with great rapidity, and cases of death in London last week. If you have got Kay's letter you will have heardd that he published a volume costing 14s., nominally at the desire of the University, whereat Whewell waxed greatly indignant and had him up before the Senate2. Campbell has nearly given up P.E. and now talks nothing but uncompromising Evangelicalism to the great annoyance of his friends. It is even becoming a matter of doubt whether the chief end of education is to impede population. But no doubt the perusal of the Poor Law articles in the "Times" will soon fan the dormant flame. My Paris trip was eminently successful, I went with Lushington, Mansfield and Bartwick, and for 3 weeks we ate the most glorious dinners in the world, at 18 francs a bead, went 14 nights running to the play, and polished off some French evening parties, whereof my opinion is that they are eminently trumpesque. I take it for granted that you will come leisurely back through Italy, and therefore hope to catch a glimpse of you at Venice or Milan, monkey and all. I am afraid the amiable animal must be a source of considerable inconvenience to you when you return to civilisation. I can fancy a few more comfortable positions than that of looking after an ape in a railway train ! You had better pack him up in brown paper, cover him (I believe her, I beg her pardon) with postage stamps and direct her to my gyp, or to Wilton Crescent,
' For James Silk Buckingham, see Diet. Nat. Biog.
2 Galton gives some account of Joseph Kay's book, The Education of the Poor in England and Europe, 1846, written by the "Travelling Bachelor of the University of Cambridge " and bearding Whewell, in his Memories, pp. 68-9.